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Franklin D. Roosevelt


Key Terms and Events

terms Key Terms and Events


Groton -  · A small boys' school in western Massachusetts, started under the leadership of Reverend Endicott Peabody. The school had the support of many of the leading men in America, including J.P. Morgan, and attracted the children of the wealthiest and most prominent families in America, including young Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who was sent to Groton at the age of fourteen.
Harvard -  ·  One of America's first institutions of higher learning, this was the place where most of the country's most prominent individuals, including Theodore and Franklin Delano Roosevelt, received their education.
Tammany Hall  -  · Originally one of many patriotic societies set up in many American societies, the one in New York City was the only one that endured. The party gained power by seducing the new immigrant vote with patronage in the form of food, clothing, jobs, and fuel. Though plagued by corruption on every level, the party's leaders or "bosses" were heavily influential in New York politics for decades. FDR's struggle and reconciliation with the bosses of Tammany Hall was one of the defining characteristics of his time in the New York legislature.
Progressivism  -  ·  As the country became increasingly aware of the problems of rapid urbanization and industrialization in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the Progressive movement responded to these changes by advocating urban reform and attacking corruption. Progressivism in state and national government, a movement in which FDR played a large role, succeeded under the leadership of Woodrow Wilson in fighting trusts and monopolies, reforming the currency system and restricting child labor. Progressivism finally lost its momentum in the wake of WWI, and it was not until the New Deal that the spirit of reform once again entered the nation.
New Deal -  · A term first used in Roosevelt's speech at the Democratic nomination convention in Chicago in 1932, the New Deal was the name given to his program of reforms. The legislation that comprised the New Deal was passed in two rounds. The legislation passed during the first Hundred Days was aimed at recovery and relief, and included the AAA, CCC, PWA, and the NRA. The second round of legislation comprised of more long-term reform such as the Social Security System, labor reform, and farmers' subsidies. The New Deal was the signal of a substantial change in the role of American government in its citizens' lives. For the first time, the government took responsibility for the basic welfare of its citizens, a radical departure from its earlier structure.
Isolationism  -  ·  After the shocking horrors of World War I, in which thousands of men died in a war across the seas, the country became prey to isolationist tendencies. Woodrow Wilson faced a country so adamant to close its eyes to the world beyond its borders that he could not convince the nation to join the League of Nations, which eventually collapsed without US participation. The late entry of the United States into the Second World War was due to the isolationist sentiment that gripped the nation.
Brain Trust  -  · The Brain Trust was the nickname coined by New York newspapers for the group of political advisors that Roosevelt gathered together to help him gain the presidential nomination in 1932. The group included political scientist Raymond Moley and the lawyer Adolf Berle. They wrote the momentous "Forgotten Man" speech, which Roosevelt delivered in 1932, confirming his progressive agenda and gaining him much positive publicity.
The Hundred Days  -  · Immediately upon entering office, the enthusiastic President Roosevelt called Congress to an Emergency Session that lasted from March 9 through June 16, 1933, in which the body passed all the major legislation of the first New Deal. This included the creation of the CCC, the AAA, the NRA, and the Emergency Banking Act.
Fireside Chats -  · Roosevelt had employed the radio to good advantage since his days as governor of New York. He used the radio to speak directly to the people, using his skill at oratory to good advantage. The first Fireside Chat delivered the weekend before the banks were to reopen set the standard for those to follow. He explained his reasoning behind the proposed legislation and the intended beneficial effects. He also used the medium to convey his perennial optimism to the people. When the banks reopened the next morning, deposits outranked withdrawals for the first time in months, revealing that FDR's assurances were received with trust and his boundless optimism was contagious. The Fireside Chats are one of the most memorable features of Roosevelt's Presidency.
Court-packing plan  -  ·  Roosevelt proposed the bill in the afterglow of his 1936 landslide election, miscalculating the public's reaction to an attack on what most people considered to be one of the pillars of American democracy. Roosevelt proposed that he be allowed to add another member to the Supreme Court for every member over seventy who had not retired, under the pretense that the Court was not able to handle its caseload. This bill was quickly vetoed by his own party and greatly decreased Roosevelt's power.
Lame duck period  -  · Before amendments were passed that changed this situation, there was a period of more than four months between the time that presidents were elected and the time that they were inaugurated. During this period the old President had very little power in office because of his impending departure, hence his title of lame duck.
Lend-Lease -  · When WWII broke out in Europe, an isolationist Congress passed a series of Neutrality Acts to guarantee that the US would not get involved in another bloody conflict, one of which stated that munitions would only be sold to warring nations on a cash and carry policy. FDR was a staunch supporter of aid to Britain, if not of full out war, and invented the lend-lease plan to circumvent the Neutrality Acts when he received a letter from Churchill desperately pleading for more arms. Roosevelt decided that rather than selling munitions to Britain, Americans could lend or lease resources as necessary. This plan allowed Britain to continue fighting the war.


World War I  - An assassination of the Archduke of Austria by a young Serbian sparked a war that was to be termed the "Great War" by those who lived through it. World War I began in Europe because of the number of secret alliances and treaties made between the various states. America's entry into the war in 1917 provided useful training for FDR, the future war President who was then Assistant Secretary of the Navy.
Newport Sex Scandal - Roosevelt was accused by Republican legislators of involvement in a homosexuality scandal at a Newport navy base that had been under his control during his time at the Navy department. It was testament to his political wiles that he managed to escape this ordeal with his political cachet intact.
Polio - Roosevelt was vacationing with his family at Campobello during one of his rare times without a political position when he was suddenly paralyzed by polio. Although doctors were initially optimistic, they soon realized that Roosevelt would never walk again without help. Many cite this event as changing profoundly Roosevelt's basic nature, giving him the humanity and empathy that he had previously lacked.
The Great Depression  - Although it had all the characteristics of traditional economic crises, the Great Depression was singularly long and powerful, inflicting poverty and suffering on a scale heretofore unseen in the business cycle in America. Possible causes include the unequal distribution of wealth during the 1920s, unsound investment practices, and severe cutback in foreign trade due to both worldwide depression and the institution of high tariffs. The Great Depression only ended with the advent of war in the 1940s, when the burgeoning munitions industries ended rampant unemployment.
Yalta Conference  - This meeting of Churchill, Stalin, and FDR in the Black Sea city of Yalta (from February 4–11, 1945) was held to discuss the shape of the post-war world. The Yalta conference was buoyed by impending Allied victory in Europe. The conferees reaffirmed their commitment to unconditional surrender from Germany, made plans for dividing Germany for occupation, made compromises on the future of Poland and the other Eastern European states, and agreed that Russia would enter the war in Asia if needed after the end of war on the Continent. The shape of the United Nations was also agreed upon as well as the voting procedures. Russia was given two extra votes to mollify Stalin's complaint that America and Britain had a far greater number of countries in their sphere of influence. FDR was sharply criticized for his inability to prevent Russian takeover of Eastern Europe and for allowing the creation of the foundation of the Cold War.
Pearl Harbor  - Japanese planes hit this harbor on the Southern Coast of the island of Oahu in Hawaii on December 7, 1941. In this devastating attack on the United States, eight battleships, eleven other naval vessels, and 188 aircraft were destroyed. The death toll was 2,280 soldiers and sixty-eight civilians, and 1,109 people were wounded. Although FDR was accused by some historians of being complicit in the attack on Pearl Harbor as a means of inciting the country into entering the war, the toll taken on American life and military equipment is far too much for Roosevelt to have even known about the attack beforehand and allowed it to happen. The day after the incident, the US declared war on Japan. Three days later, Germany and Italy declared war on the US.

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